Help in finding Photo

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Help in finding Photo

Postby chillijules » Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:32 am

Hi not sure if anyone on here will be able to help us.

My husbands Grandfather served in the Worcestershire Regiment during WW1.

His name was Sgt William Francis Brookes he was in the 2nd battalion his number was 12043. He was awarded the MM "Bar" and was killed in action 1.11.1916.
He has no known grave and his name is entered on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme.

My husbands father never knew his father as he was killed before he was born.
His parents were due to be married at the end of the war, but sadly he never came home.
As we all know in those days unmarried mothers were frowned upon and Williams family turned their backs on his fiancee.
So sadly there is no photos of William Francis and we never knew what became of his medals.

Unfortunately my husbands father died 5 years ago, he died never knowing what his father looked like.

It would mean the world to my husband if someone somewhere would know if there are any old Regimental photographs anywhere showing a photo of William Francis Brookes?

I realise that this is a unlikely but I thought I'd ask.

Many many thanks for taking the time to read this post.

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Postby peter » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:41 am

Hi Jules'

I'm researching the men of 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment who went to France in August - November 1914 (The Old Contemptibles) and your husbands grandfather is on my list.

I have the details that you posted (the gazette date for his MM 3-6-1916 and for his Bar 6-11-1916) but sadly I don't have a photograph. However if you contact Worcestershire Regimental Archives (details can be found on this site) I know they have a photograph of a group on NCO's taken at Aldershot in 1913. If William was a NCO at that time he could well be on it. But this could be very frustating for you not knowing what he looks like and the photograph does not have names to it, but worth while maybe. They make a small charge for any search and you would have to cover the cost of a print of the photograph plus postage.

I hope this will be of use to you and good luck in your search, I will keep an eye out for his name in my future reseach of the Battalion.

Best Regards

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Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 10:58 am

Postby peter » Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:16 pm

Hi again Jules,

Just a little more information on William. He was born in Birmingham (1891 abt.) and enlisted in Birmingham. The son of Mrs. Sarah Ann Brookes of 4 back 22 Wainwright Street, Aston. In 1916 he was a member of 'A' Company when he was killed in action aged 25.

The following is taken from 'the Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War' by Captain H. FitzM. Stacke M.C. psges 204/5.

As dawn of November 1st lit up the battlefield it was seen that 'Frost Trench', held by the 2nd Wocestersshire, was separated from the German position in 'Hazy Trench' by a low crest line, which effectively prevented any real knowledge of the dispositions of the enemy.

All day long the front line of the Battalion was heavily shelled, so heavily shelled that it was necessary to withdraw most platoons from the trench to a line of shell-holes in rear. During the morning Captain W. Ferguson was shot dead by a German sniper - a most serious loss, for he had proved himself a very gallant leader.

As the afternoon wore on, the fire of the British artillery grew heavier and rose suddenly to intensity at 'zero' - 3.30 p.m. Then, as the guns litted their fire, the 9th H.L.I. and 2nd Worcestershire ('A' and 'B' Companies 'C' and 'D' were in reserve) advanced through the mud to attack 'Boritzka' and 'Hazy Trenches.

Never had the Battalion struggled through worse morass. The Franklin soldiers sank up to their knees in the mud, hauling out each foot with the utmost difficulty and in many cases losing their boots and putties.Slowly the attacking line waded forwarded up the slight slope. As they reached the crest of the little rise which hid the enemy from view they were met by a storm of bullets.

From "Hazy" Trench in front, from another German position on their left flank at the end of the spur, and from the Cemetery on the crest of the ridge beyond, groups of German machine-guns opened rapid fire. Under that fire the attack could not gain ground, officers and men fell on every side, and the remainder were driven to such shelter as they could find amid the water-logged shell-holes. When darkness came, the survivors waded back to their original line. The failure had been due to the mud and to the weather conditions as much as to the enemy's fire.

One other 2nd Battalion soldier that sailed to France with William in August 1914 was killed in action on this day on the Somme, he was Corporal 11751 William Stacey.

Sorry this is not the photograph you wish for but hope it is helpful.


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Postby allanp » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:38 pm

Hi Jules

I have found 2 references to Sergt Brookes in the Worcester Herald.

14th October 1916 edition
12043 Sergt W. F. Brookes – Birmingham - Wounded

9 December 1916 edition

12043 Sergt W. Brookes – Birmingham - Killed.

I have not found any reference to his Military Medal & Bar.

As for a photograph, during the Great War there was a weekly newspaper, Burrows Weekly Journal. This was a pictorial paper and every year they compiled a book of all the photographs that had been printed that year. Unfortunatly they are not on line but are available at the History Centre in Worcester. As your man had the MM & Bar there is a good chance that his picture may be there. No guarantee, but really worth a look. If you find him, you can send a copy via the link on this site. I'm sure we would all like to see him.

Regards Allan
12631 Lance Sergt George William Hill. KIA Vimy Ridge, 28 April 1916 3rd Battalion
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Location: Bromsgrove Worcestershire

Postby sommedoc » Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:43 pm

Thanks so very much for the postings gentlemen. I'm sorry it has taken several months for me to get round to posting a response (usual excuses, work etc), but I'm most grateful for your efforts. When my wife originally posted the request I had no idea she'd done so. I really must look up the magazine lead in the Worcester History centre as it sounds as though there is at least a sporting chance of a picture.

Whilst this is my first post on the forum, I am a keen Western Front enthusiast (stemming in part from the family connection), & spend a great deal of time over in France walking 'The Old Front Line' particularly on The Somme sector. Ironically only last weekend I made a visit to the site of the meteorological trenches between Guedecourt & Le Transloy.

Once again many thanks for the lead.
Roger ('Sommedoc').
ATB from Sommedoc.
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